Coronavirus: How Montreal non-profits are transforming the ways they raise funds – Montreal

The winter months are usually considered fundraising season, with non-profits organizing large scale galas and special activities to sustain their work.

But with a ban on gatherings, how are non-profits adapting?

For the Teresa Dellar Paliative Care Residence, the annual Valentine’s Day gala is their biggest fundraiser of the year. But this year, it got a total makeover.

Due to a ban on gatherings, the ball went online.

Read more:
West Island Palliative Care Residence hosts 19th annual Valentine’s Ball

“We are sending beautiful four-course meals to all of the participants so they can relax in their homes and they will be accessing a platform that we have just for them,” said Dale Weil, the residence’s executive director.

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The virtual soirée raised $515,000, thanks to more than 400 guests, sponsors and donors.

Weil says they have been working all year on transitioning their fundraising events to the web and thanks to their creative efforts and their donors, they are on track to meet their target.

“I would say we do face a year ahead having to be adjusted for the pandemic, but I think we have a formula now that we’re finding is working,” said Weil.

Read more:
Solidarity fund launched to aid West Island charities hurt by COVID-19

The West Island Community Shares has also taken their in-person events online.

Fundraising events represent over 30 per cent of their total revenues.

“We’re not quite at our $1.3 million yet. Our year-end is end of March, so we’re working really hard to try to catch up,” said Sophie McCann, the organization’s executive director.

For example, they’re organizing a pizza night.

“For every pizza kit that we sell, we’re going to give one kit to one family in need,” McCann explained. “That’s an event that started three days ago and we’re almost sold out, which blew our mind.”

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West Island Community Shares is an umbrella organization supporting more than 40 communities organizations.

They say with the pandemic, demand for services has gone up, an issue shared by the Douglas Mental Health Institute.

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“There’s a second pandemic in mental health coming and I don’t think there’s going to be a vaccine for that so we really, really need the funds at the Douglas,” said Sarah Ivory, a board member of the Douglas Mental Health Institute Foundation.

The Douglas is also a designated COVID-19 hospital.

In order to cover expenses, the foundation has also come up with innovative ways to fundraise, such an online gaming event, which is now expected to become an annual tradition.

READ MORE: Mental health issues spiking at Montreal General Hospital during COVID-19 pandemic

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Their upcoming Open Minds ball is also going online.

Ivory says the money raised goes a long way for the Institute, which also does research.

“The programs that they develop are being spread out to other doctors and other facilities around the province, so the research is so important because it provides immediate care for other people in Quebec and beyond,” said Ivory.

While all organizations face different challenges, they all agree on one thing: new ways of fundraising are here to stay.

“I think that the need to reinvent ourselves, to adapt to the situation, to really be flexible and have different avenues of fundraising was important before and now it’s critical,” McCann said.

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© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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